To everyone’s amazement there was a window of good weather just long enough for us all to have a good run. The slower runners and the walkers will have got caught by the rain, sleet and snow that followed, but most of the runners got away with it, dry from the knees up. Yes, it was a bit muddy!
First to finish was Edward Davies in 5:36 (2nd last year), second Steven Radcliffe 4 minutes behind him, and third was Keven Hoult in 5:51. Nicky Spinks was first woman in 6:18. Chris Davies kept Nicky in sight for most of the way but lost sight of her in the end to finish first V50 & V60 in 6:27. Karen Nash was 2nd woman in 7:04, with Beverley Holmes 3rd in 8:43. Numbers overall were down on 2015, although there were a lot of Runfurther members there.
Karen Nash has written up her run, and you can find that on her blog here. Sport Sunday were there taking photos, and you can find them here. Nick Ham was taking photos too, as he ran, and they are here. He took the photo above, which is on the first climb out of the valley.
See you at the Fellsman!
A week before the Calderdale Hike I came down with a cold. Leading up to the race I was feeling pretty awful, coughing and spluttering, and the last thing I felt like doing was running 36 miles. The only reason I was on that starting line was that I’d entered all the other Runfurther races already, and there was no way my Grand Slam attempt was going to be abandoned without a fight. If not for the Slam I’d have stayed at home in bed. So at 8am I dosed myself up with paracetamol and codeine, the objective being to suppress the coughing enough to get through the Hike without doing so much damage to myself that I wasn’t in a fit state to start the Fellsman.
At 9am I tottered off along with everybody else, and to be honest didn’t feel too bad. Left out of the gates and down the greasy path and steps to cross the valley. It was as soon as we started up the slippery cobbles that I started to feel the state of my body, so I slowed up a bit. To be honest I didn’t have much choice. I knew I was going to be much slower than last year. On the way over the moors heading south to the M62 we didn’t get last year’s sleet, and I was enjoying the run out. I fell in with a loose group of runners, including Carmine and Andy and a team of 4 from Bolton wearing red spots, and we kept more or less in touch all the way to Lumbutts. I took the main road option to Windy Hill, as it does save a few minutes, and then the sneaky cut across the Blackstone Edge ridge to follow the Broad Head Drain path, which is much faster than the Pennine Way. I overtook Nick Ham here, as he cut off left earlier on a slower route to the Drain. I then led a group of about 8 on the Hey Head Lane route up to the Stubley Cross Hill turbines, rather than the recommended route – I don’t think it’s quicker, but it’s the route I know.
Down to the “stepping stones” footbridge, and then we had to find the new checkpoint location below Coolam, but that turned out to be straightforward enough. Andy and I then headed up to the top of Trough Edge End to follow the footpath down, while the spotty boys contoured round to the right. They’d have probably got away from us here if they’d got the line spot-on, but they dropped a bit too low and had to climb back up a bit to join us. By the time we got to the Slate Pit Hill checkpoint I was starting to feel pretty tired. My legs were OK, but my head wasn’t. Bob Nash was at the checkpoint, having decided to retire after falling and hitting his head – he also had a cold and had the Fellsman ahead of him, so it seemed the right decision to me, although he seemed unsure later whether he’d done the right thing.
Andy and I headed off across the moor and down to Cornholme, with the Bolton lads sometimes in front and sometimes behind. They were running faster than us but didn’t know the route and were frequently checking their GPS, so we kept coming past them again. We all flogged up to Mount Cross together, then Andy and I pushed off ahead of them on the track down to Cross Stone. I was still able to run OK, but I was starting to feel more wobbly all the time, concerned I might pass out while I was running. We crossed the valley and headed up to the Lumbutts Church checkpoint, and here I made the decision to take the safest option and walk the rest of the way. Andy, Carmine and the Bolton runners disappeared into the distance as I ambled along under Stoodley Pike, chatting to the walkers. Nick Ham and Mick Cottam came by shortly after as well. Somehow I managed to overtake all the walkers I saw without actually walking faster than most of them. I think it was just that I wasn’t stopping and wasn’t hesitating over the route. The climb up out of Cragg Vale was really hard, and then the rain started as I walked the last couple miles along the road to the finish. I was trashed.
So, the only sensible thing to do was to go home and take it easy until the Fellsman. Instead I headed over to Scarborough for my brother’s 60th birthday bash on the Sunday, then home for dental work on the Monday, then into Manchester on the Tuesday which is why I haven’t been able to write this until today (Wednesday). I’ve still got every intention of running the Fellsman – although I’m still coughing a bit, and I’m still feeling pretty wiped out.